Reign of Fire (2002)

reign of fire

“When I’m running for my life, I generally don’t look back at the plumbing.”

The Scoop: 2002 PG-13, directed by Rob Bowman and starring Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Alexander Siddig

Tagline: They’re extremely intelligent. Highly evolved. And they don’t like sharing the planet.

Summary Capsule: In the year 2000-something, there be lots of people and one dragon. Ten years or so later, it’s pretty much the other way around. With lots of cinders. Can the intrepid British tomato fanciers and rogue American commandos defeat what nukes couldn’t? Stay tuned!

Sue’s rating: If I didn’t have a brain…

Sue’s review: Golly, there was a lot of effort put into this movie. I mean the dragons look so real, and the special effects are seamless, and if you look at the “making of” parts of the DVD you can tell that everyone is just so very proud. I mean, they used thousands of gallons of flammable gas! And you should hear them going on and on and on about the chemical composition of dragon snot or drool or whatever it was.

But in the back of my mind, I have the same itchy feeling I get when my Dad tells one of his truly corny jokes. And for every doubting or dubious thought I harbor, I get an answer that is either worthy of the Big Book O’ Humor For Preschool Intellects or stock in trade for political debates in a subject-changing prevaricating kind of way. Something like this:

Question: Hey, that dragon munched on one person, then ignored the rest of them because it was busy frying a tomato patch – and no one seemed surprised. In fact they said it was only interested in the ash. And the world is full of ash, but the dragons are supposed to be starving. So what the heck do dragons actually eat?
Answer: Anything they want to.

Question: How did those Americans manage to transport a tank, a helicopter and several assorted armored vehicles across the Atlantic Ocean in a dragon rich environment?
Answer: Very carefully.

Question: If all the military technology on the planet, including nukes, couldn’t even put a dent in the dragons, how could two guys with crossbows and C4-tipped arrows take them down?
Answer: Did you notice we got Mathew McConaughey? Check it out! He’s People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive!

Question: Let me get this straight. The movie starts with one dragon, a male, and within a few years, there are a million dragons – all females except for the original dragon. So, where did the first female dragon come from?
Answer: Did you see Christian Bale shirtless? Isn’t he yummy?

Question: For that matter, if there was only ever one male dragon, and he never seemed to leave the London vicinity (except for the occasional picnic in the countryside), and considering that there’s irrefutable evidence that dragons make dragons in the one-on-one, up-close-and-personal, sweet dragon lovin’ way and not by, for instance, thinking happy procreative dragon thoughts from a high altitude, how the heck did he manage to father literally hundreds of thousands of other dragons without either dropping dead or moving to Siberia to avoid alimony?
Answer: Yeah, those dragons sure looked great, didn’t they? Did you know they were based on spitting cobras and bombardier beetles?

Question: And not to be indelicate, but we’re apparently talking about some major dragon incest here. Genetically speaking, inbreeding over so many generations must-
Answer: Did we mention Christian Bale not wearing a shirt? Isn’t he dreamy? And those eyes… you could get lost in those eyes…

Question: Yeah, he’s great, but seriously I was wondering. The surviving humans have a horse. And they’re starving. Not to get PETA annoyed or anything but it would probably have dressed out to six or seven hundred pounds of steak, chops and stew meat so-
Answer: Hey, can you burp the alphabet?

Question: No. But look, what were they feeding the horse anyway? He wasn’t nearly as scrawny as the humans!
Answer: Why did the dragon cross the road?
Question: Huh?
Answer: To get to the other side! AND KILL EVERYONE THERE! Har har har! I slay me! Get it? Slay? Slay dragons? Get it?
Question: …yeah…
Answer: Hoo hoo! That’s a side-splitter, that is! That’s a genuine rip-snorter!

Question: But I’m trying to ask you about-
Answer: Oooh, I’ve got one. Knock knock!
Question: Now look-
Question: Okay-okay, who’s there?
Answer: Boo!
Question: Boo who?
Answer: Don’t be such a cry baby! HAR!

Question: Oh never mind.
Answer: That’s the spirit! Here, have some popcorn. Enjoy the show!
Question: Thanks.
Answer: And hey, try not to think so much, okay? Frankly, it’s sort of annoying.
Question: I’m sorry.
Answer: Don’t worry about it.
Question: But I did wonder-
Answer: Hush.

Ethel! Get the flyswatter!
Ethel! Get the flyswatter!


  • During filming on the climactic London set, they used approximately eight tons of liquid propane and several thousand gallons of diesel.
  • The “Dragon Drool” was mixed by combining Methyl Ethyl Ketone with Cabosil for consistency and continuous burning.
  • Why is everyone in the construction zone required to wear a safety helmet – except for the school kid?
  • Budweiser in 24 oz. cans? A preferred British after work brew? Really?
  • The people are starving to death, yet they have a FAT horse.
  • Hmmm. Van Zan’s estimate of “1,600 lbs of horseflesh” is probably an exaggeration. That horse looks about 1,200 lbs.
  • In the scene at the burial ground, Quinn is seen holding the horse on his right side. He has a brief confrontation with Van Zan, and then Van Zan shoves past him as he leaves, also on the right side. Apparently he was angry enough to make leather reins disintegrate instantly.
  • Van Zan says three men died in the confrontation with the first dragon. I counted four. One flamed, one gulped, two cratered.
  • Never mind being fried. The most painful scene had to be Quinn pouring iodine on an open wound. Christian Bale deserved an Oscar for that!
  • If everything across the world is toast, where are they finding fuel for the trucks, tanks and helicopter?
  • If the dragons have great eyesight during the day and excellent eyesight at night, what the HECK is with all the spotlights and floodlamps everyone seems to be aiming around?
  • Heh. The horse is wearing an Australian saddle.
  • The dragon breathing sounds suspiciously Vader-ish.
  • The movie says Northumberland, England 2020 AD in a subtitle, but the narrator of the trailer says it’s 2084 AD.

Groovy Quotes

Quinn’s Mother: Have you been smoking?
Quinn (age 12): No! I told you, I only smoke when I’ve been drinking.

Construction Worker: What brings you to the [rectum] of the world?
Quinn: You’re passing through it. What does that make you?

Van Zan: Envy the country that has heroes, huh? I say pity the country that needs them.

Creedy: Only one thing worse than dragons. Americans.

Van Zan: (About the dragons) Ever see a male?
Quinn: When I’m running for my life, I generally don’t look back at the plumbing.

Creedy: Creedy’s own black label. Aged two weeks in a steel barrel. Now, the secret’s swallowing fast. That way it only burns your stomach and not your throat.

Quinn: [Van Zan is] A dragon slayer
Creedy: Oh, he’s a dragon slayer. So that would make you King Arthur?

Quinn: Anything happens, you know what to do.
Creedy: Uh… no. I have no idea.
Quinn: Me neither.

Van Zan: We’re going to London.
Quinn: Good luck. It’s that way.

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